Throughout January at Nowra City Church we are immersing ourselves in the book of Ephesians around the idea of the three divisions of the book suggested by Watchman Nee – Sit, Walk, Stand.
This is week one of my Preaching notes.
Three Reasons why Ephesians has always been a favourite book of mine
Paul writing in Acts about the church at Ephesus
1) Acts 20:20 and 27 – Paul indicates he gave the Ephesus church full teaching – meaning there is some deep meat in the book
20 how I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house
27 For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God.
2) Paul knew that wolves were going to come and attack the church – so the book of Ephesians is about Wolf Proofing the church
Acts 20:29-31 29 For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. 30 Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. 31 Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears
3) Paul also wrote the book to Build up the Christians, to provide them a spiritual inheritance and remind them about the words of Jesus – it is more blessed to give than to receive and to remember to focus on others – particularly the weak
32 “So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. 33 I have coveted no one’s silver or gold or apparel.
35 I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
Need to read Acts 19 and 20 in conjunction with the book of Ephesians
Three well known stories out of the book of Acts – Happened in Ephesus when Paul was there:
1) People receive the Holy Spirit
And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples 2 he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”
So they said to him, “We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.”
3 And he said to them, “Into what then were you baptized?”
So they said, “Into John’s baptism.”
4 Then Paul said, “John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.”
5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied. 7 Now the men were about twelve in all.
2) Unusual Miracles at the hands of Paul
11 Now God worked unusual miracles by the hands of Paul, 12 so that even handkerchiefs or aprons were brought from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out of them
3) The Seven Son of Sceva
13 Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists took it upon themselves to call the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “We[a] exorcise you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches.” 14 Also there were seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, who did so.
15 And the evil spirit answered and said, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?”
16 Then the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, overpowered[b] them, and prevailed against them,[c] so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. 17 This became known both to all Jews and Greeks dwelling in Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified
Background to the Book
In 133 B.C., Ephesus came under direct control of the Romans.
During the first century A.D., the city was the capital of the Roman province of Asia.
It was famous for its trade, art, and science, but it was even more renowned for its Temple of Diana (Greek Artemis), which was considered one of the seven wonders of the world. It was a building of Ionic architecture, four hundred and twenty-five feet long and two hundred and twenty feet wide. It was supported by one hundred and twenty-seven marble columns that were sixty feet high. Thirty-two of these were beautifully carved.
Some of the stones from this temple are on exhibit in the British Museum.
In modern times this temple is in complete ruin, as is the city, and not a living soul resides within its walls.
Ephesus is located about three miles inland from the Aegean Sea in the Cayster River valley. The harbor, which frequently silted up, made an excellent seaport.
Three important roads met at Ephesus. One brought trade from the east via Colossae and Laodicea.
One came from Galatia via Sardis and brought trade from Asia Minor.
The third important road was to the north.
This system of roads, coupled with the excellent seaport, made Ephesus the fourth greatest city in the Roman Empire (after Rome, Alexandria, and Antioch) with a population of approximately 250,000.
Who wrote the book?
Paul wrote the book although there are some who say he didn’t
However early sources in church history that attribute this letter to Paul include: Irenaeus (200 A.D.), Clement of Alexandria (200 A.D.), and Origen (250 A.D.). Polycarp (125 A.D.)
All credible sources
From what I know and understand – I certainly believe that Paul wrote the book
Date Of Writing:
Ephesians is one of Paul’s four “prison epistles” (3:1; 4:1; 6:20; cf. Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon).
The general consensus is that these epistles were written during Paul’s imprisonment at Rome (cf. Ac 28:16,30-31).
If such is truly the case, then Paul wrote Ephesians around 61-63 A.D. from Rome.
The indication is that the epistles to the Colossians, Philemon and the Ephesians were carried to their destination by Tychicus and Onesimus (cf. 6:21-22; Co 4:7-9; Phile 10-12).
How was the Ephesus church started?
The Origin Of The Ephesian Church
When Paul was on his second preaching journey, he was “forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia” (Acts 16:6).
For some reason unknown to us, the door of opportunity for the preaching of the gospel in Asia was not yet open. The opening was in Europe, and Paul was guided there by the Holy Spirit. On returning from Europe in about A.D. 53, Paul, along with his faithful helpers, Aquila and Priscilla, visited Ephesus (Acts 18:18-21).
18 So Paul still remained a good while. Then he took leave of the brethren and sailed for Syria, and Priscilla and Aquila were with him. He had his hair cut off at Cenchrea, for he had taken a vow. 19 And he came to Ephesus, and left them there; but he himself entered the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews. 20 When they asked him to stay a longer time with them, he did not consent, 21 but took leave of them, saying, “I must by all means keep this coming feast in Jerusalem;[c] but I will return again to you, God willing.” And he sailed from Ephesus.
As was his custom, Paul “entered the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews” (v. 19), but nothing is said about anyone obeying the gospel. Nevertheless, they wanted Paul to stay a longer time with them, but, pressed for time, he was not able to do so (v. 20), although he did promise to return to them, God willing (v. 21).
The Scriptures inform us that Aquila and Priscilla stayed behind in Ephesus (vv. 18,19). They are the church at Ephesus. Some time after Paul’s departure, Apollos visited the city (Acts 18:24-28). Described as an “eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures,” Apollos was an Alexandrian Jew who had been “instructed in the way of the Lord,” but “knew only the baptism of John” (v. 25).
As his knowledge was imperfect, Priscilla and Aquila, upon hearing him speak publicly, “took him aside privately and explained to him the way of God more accurately” (v. 26). After this, Apollos desired to cross over to Achaia and “the brethren [at Ephesus] wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him” (v. 27). The use of “the brethren” indicates there are others at Ephesus who are now Christians besides Aquila and Priscilla. Who these other Christians are, we are not told. The church is probably still quite small and may possibly be meeting in the home of Aquila and Priscilla.
In A.D. 54, after beginning his third preaching journey, Paul returns to Ephesus. While there, he discovers some disciples who had not yet been baptized into Christ. After these twelve obeyed the gospel, they no doubt sought to join themselves to the local church and were received with great rejoicing. Paul then goes into the synagogue and speaks boldly for three months, “reasoning and persuading concerning the things of the kingdom of God” (Acts 19:7). When strong opposition to his teaching arises, he withdraws with the other Christians to the school of Tyrannus. There he continues daily to teach the gospel for two years (Acts 19:10). Bruce, in his Commentary on the Book of Acts, provides us with some interesting information on the school of Tyrannus: “The Western text indicates that Paul had the use of the building from 11 A.M. to 4 P.M. Tyrannus no doubt held his classes in the early morning. Public activity ceased in the cities of Ionia for several hours at 11 A.M., and…more people would be asleep at 1 P.M. than at 1 A.M….so that they were willing to sacrifice their siesta for the sake of listening to Paul” (pp. 388,389).
Altogether, Paul spent three years at Ephesus with great success (Acts 20:31). Its excellent location was ideally suited for the spread of the gospel. Consequently, within the three years that Paul remained at Ephesus, the “word of the Lord” radiated throughout the whole province (Acts 19:10). This was no doubt accomplished in part through the fact of the great number of people who, for one reason or another, passed through the city, heard the gospel, and then carried it back to their homes located throughout Asia.
Timothy and Erastus also spent some time with Paul in Ephesus, but he eventually sent them on into Macedonia (Acts 19:22). As soon as he did this, there arose a great commotion over Diana of the Ephesians. If the words of Demetrius are to be believed, she was worshipped by “all Asia and the world” (Acts 19:27). As a result, Paul’s travel companions, Gaius and Aristarchus of Macedonia, were dragged into the theater. It is clear from the Bible account that these men’s lives were in danger. Paul, ever the courageous soldier of the Cross, wanted to enter the theater but was prevented from doing so by the disciples who rightly feared the worst for him and his two companions if he showed his face to this chaotic assembly of goddess worshippers. After Alexander was set forth by the Jews, apparently in an attempt to defend the Jews from any association with renegade Jews (i.e., Christians) like “this fellow Paul” whom Gaius and Aristarchus abetted, pure pandemonium broke out for about two hours as the “disorderly gathering” cried out, “Great is Diana of the Ephesians” (Acts 19:34). Eventually, the city clerk was able to bring order to the theater and dismiss the crowd. After this, Paul called the disciples together, embraced them, and departed for Macedonia (Acts 20:1). He sailed to Macedonia and then traveled to Greece where he stayed for three months. Then, he, with his eight travel companions (Sopater, Aristarchus, Secundus, Gaius, Timothy, Tychicus, Trophimus, and Luke), returned to Asia via Macedonia, stopping over at Troas. Sailing on to Miletus, about thirty miles south of Ephesus, he calls for and meets with the elders of the Ephesian church (Acts 20:17-38). Lenski, commenting on this meeting in Acts of the Apostles, writes: “So small a group: a few elders, Paul, his eight companions—yet an immortal meeting! The great theater in Miletus, where the crowds gathered, which is now in ruins, is forgotten like the nameless crowds that gathered there; but the words this one man Paul spoke to a handful of men somewhere in this harbor city still throb with as much life and power as when they were uttered that day. Here are immortal truths; here throbs a heart moved with those truths to a tenderness and a love which they alone could beget. Paul’s address to the Ephesian elders is a shining page even in the New Testament” (p. 836).
Suggested Key Themes by Commentators
1) “THE BELIEVER’S RICHES IN CHRIST”
Key Verse Ephesians 1:3
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us
with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,”
2) Salvation By Grace through faith
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-not by works, so that no one can boast. (
3) The Workmanship of Christ in us
Ephesians 2:10: For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
For the sake of this preaching Series –
Talk about Watchman Nee and who he was.
Sit Walk Stand
1) Sit – Our Position Before God
6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.
God made Jesus to ‘sit’ and made us to ‘sit’ with Him.
Fundamental truth to Christianity. That we can do nothing to get saved; more righteous, more forgiven, more accepted in heaven.
Other religions do not have this;
2. This position in the heavenlies is a posture of rest.
Standing and walking relies on our nerves and muscles. Takes energy – you can get weary.
Sitting is relaxing because we put our weight onto something external – the chair.
Our position in the heavenlies is rest because the weight of our sin, our eternal destiny and life rests on something external – God.
Our position in the heavenlies is a posture of not only rest but also receiving.
Christianity is a work done.
So we sit before God, but how do we operate when it comes to man?
Eph 4:1-3 I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, 2 with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, 3 endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
Some people think grace means they do nothing.Grace means you don’t earn your salvation or righteousness, and from this posture of rest we need to walk worthy of our call.
Rom 6:1… misunderstanding of grace.
Deliberate walk……… based on what you have to do
Normal walk it has to be appropriate for the job.
God has given each of us a job – it is a call.
We need to walk worthy of the call.
Eph 4:17, 22, 24.
17 This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of[d] the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, 18 having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; 19 who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.
20 But you have not so learned Christ, 21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22 that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, 23 and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness
Some thoughts on our walk;
9 For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; 10 that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; 12 giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light.
Walk to please God.
Talk about things that please God and things that displease Him.
God is interested in fruit.
Growing in your understanding.
Talk about being committed to church.
Stand against the devil.
10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age,[a] against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness,
Christian experience begins with sitting and leads to walking, but it doesn’t end there.
Defensive – 90%
Because we don’t need to take ground. We need to just keep what Christ has given us.
We do not fight for victory.
We fight from victory.
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I hope these sermon notes have been helpful to you.